Atlantia director resigns over ‘inappropriate’ bonus pay-outs

Lynda Tyler-Cagni wanted to suspend bonuses for staff following the Morandi bridge disaster, but Atlantia said it was unable to do so, citing legal grounds.

A non-executive director of Italy’s Atlantia has resigned in protest following the company’s decision to proceed with bonus pay-outs in the wake of the Morandi Bridge disaster in August which killed 43 people.

Lynda Tyler-Cagni ended her two-and-a-half-year association with the company earlier this week, which also included her role as chairwoman of the Human Resources and Remuneration Committee and as a member of the Related Party Transactions Committee.

She said her resignation came after the company refused to suspend staff bonuses for the year, despite it being the parent company of Autostrade per l’Italia, manager of the Morandi Bridge concession.

“The company needs to be seen as an ethical and responsible company and I don’t think paying out bonuses big and small at this time would really be appropriate,” Tyler-Cagni told UK newspaper The Times, which reported that €1.3 million was to be distributed among 60 employees, including Atlantia’s chief executive and chairman.

However, Atlantia claims suspending the pay-outs could be a breach of law. Earlier this month, the company announced it would not pay an interim dividend for the first time since 2013.

“The reason for her resignation is due to differences of opinion with the company during a discussion at the board of directors about the execution of the Atlantia 2013 group’s share-based incentive plan, already vested, that the company on the basis of legal advice could not suspend,” it said in a statement.

Tyler-Cagni had not responded to a request for further comment at the time of publication.

Atlantia said two weeks ago it had reserved €350 million for the rebuilding of the bridge, including demolition and reconstruction, in addition to compensation to people and businesses directly affected by the collapse, victims’ families and the injured.

This was followed by the passing of a law last week excluding the company from being involved in the reconstruction process but demanding it pay for the rebuilding, with other private companies to be awarded the construction contract. The Italian government is understood to have rowed back from its initial reaction to nationalise all motorway concessions in the country.

Asked if the government would be revoking Autostrade per l’Italia’s concessions – the company manages more than 3,000 kilometres of motorways in the country – as it had initially threatened, a spokesman for the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport told Infrastructure Investor last month the government was still working on a response. He noted that it would take several months before a decision was made.